What Ndigbo want from Buhari administration: Prof. ABC Nwosu
Prof. ABC Nwosu was Political Adviser to the President and later Minister of Health under the Obasanjo administration. In this interview, Nwosu speaks on the just concluded general elections, the performance of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the polls and the fate of the Igbo under the incoming administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
You were strategic in the mobilization for your party, the PDP. With the way the elections went, what would you pin-point as the most singular reason why your party lost the elections?
The election is being analysed by a core central PDP group – those who are committed to PDP. I look back to the advertisement in 1998 in the national dailies that announced the coming into being of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. And I saw my name there, and I saw the names of these other people there too. We are the core PDP. We have been there all through and we are still there; we will never leave.
There are three things that are coming to us.
Three things coming to you like what?
The PDP made many mistakes that could have been avoided. But, these mistakes have been there from day one in 1998. And the main mistake was that of lack of transparent primaries and internal democracy.
The second being lack of designing of effective mode of funding of the party that would guarantee internal democracy – the will of the people.
The third and, perhaps, the most important is that the PDP was a party created with a soul – the manifesto.o
These three things may make sense if, particularly, the last one had been adhered to fully?
Many of the people who flooded the party because the party was a winning party and the party was even more intent on becoming a mega party, came in and didn't even knKow the manifesto. The manifesto had in it key things like equity which was what made it possible to push for power-shift. It was that equity that said you must have democratic dividends, that is, the people must have something in return for their support of the party through good governance.
Key people in developing this soul left, or were chased out, or were frustrated. Some, like Chief S.B Awoniyi, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo are dead. Some have left the party. You can see that some former chairmen have even left the party for APC.
So, this is the analysis we are now looking at. As Chinua Achebe wrote, and I quote: “to know from where the water started to enter the pumpkin”, so that we can then come to rebuild.
The analysis is with an intention to rebuild and rebound because a strong PDP, a rebounding PDP, an opposition PDP, is good for Nigeria.
How does the party hope to engage that transition of a ruling behemoth to an opposition party?
I come from a town that has produced most of the transporters in Nigeria. In my family alone, we have Ekene Dili Chukwu, Izu Chukwu, Chidi Ebere. And they write on their vehicles: “The down fall of a man is not the end of his life”.
It is good in the recovery of the soul of PDP.
There is also the saying that it is not falling that is the problem, it is getting up each time you fall. And there is a firm resolve in many of us who formed the PDP, not for the Jollof- rice that we want to eat, but to give Nigeria a platform that should guarantee good governance and democracy dividends for the governed.
Many of us are still there, from across the country.
And we are determined, resolved that we would not be found leaving the PDP and that we would rebuild. This, many of us felt, many years back, five to six years back, when we formed the PDP Reform Group.
I was key note speaker at the summit of the group.
We got suspended and expelled from the party.
And then the president ordered that we be recalled.
Many of us are there.
Two have become governors on the platform of the APC.
Those ones I respect because they found something wrong with the PDP.
Those people who are in PDP today, if APC wins it tomorrow, they jump at it. Labour party wins it the next day, they follow immediately. Those, for us, are good riddance.
There is something that some of us felt and still feel, regarding the PVC and the Card Reader. From the way the PVCs were distributed and the way the voter register was remoulded, it appears as if there was a deliberate attempt to ensure a preponderance of voters in the north than the south. A zone like North West, without rejudice to its seven states in the desert, has 17.5m voting population which far outstrips what you have in the South-South and South- East combined, and, yet, looking at population distribution across the world, coastal areas are always more populated than desert land. Would you say something was wrong with the way INEC went about it all.
I said in my last outing concerning Professor Jega and it was clear.
I didn't join those congratulating Jega.
I was clear that Jega did a botched job.
And that if the elections were held when he proposed that he was ready, it would have been a disaster for this country. For him to have claimed that he was ready when he knew, between him and his God that he was not, he would have plunged this country into a crisis of unimaginable proportions.
But you know what?
The elections have come and gone.
General Buhari has received a general mandate.
I am in complete support of the post election behaviour of President Goodluck Jonathan.
I think Nigeria has had peace and there is nothing like post election violence anymore.
In my life, I have never been involved in nit-picking. If I were to be involved in knit-picking, it is intriguing that the old Eastern Nigeria did not vote.
How do you mean?
They didn't vote for the president elect.
They completely excluded themselves from the mandate.
If I were involved in knit-picking, I would wonder how it was that PDP people are accepting defeat and congratulating the APC winners and say let us go on with governance.
But funny enough and to tell Nigerian the type of mentality of the APC leaders, any where PDP won, the APC is always showing itself as terrible losers.
The margin of votes in Rivers State didn't near that of Kano, or Kaduna or Katsina, and yet, the Vice President in Kaduna, said congratulations.
But the people in Akwa Ibom, Anambra, are complaining.
I would urge everybody to stop the politicking, it is over.
The electioneering is over.
General Buhari has received a mandate that enables him to form a government.
He does not need a government of National Unity.
But President Jonathan was a major proponent of a Government of National Unity?
Anybody who jumps into the Buhari administration from PDP for a ministerial or any appointment is a cheap opportunistic politician.
Buhari should just go ahead and form his government that would deliver good governance.
And it is the duty of every Nigerian to hold back, get back to his inner self and his party and see how we can support him across board.
If the President-elect Buhari introduces any policy that is good for Nigeria, he should be supported, across party line, that is the way we can progress.
And speaking of that, what can make Nigeria progress are those decisions reached at the National Conference.
What are those?
True and fiscal federalism, special funds for development of our mineral resources, sovereign wealth fund.
Not every time you go at the end of the month to share the crude oil money until it is a zero sum account.
These, I think, are the things we should start telling the president-elect that will be good for Nigeria.
And if he introduces those policies including even a new constitution that is good for Nigeria that guarantees equity, development, there is no reason why we should not support him for the benefit of all Nigerians.
On the issue of government of national unity, this syndrome of winners take all has its own demerits?
President Jonathan has already said it all. You form a government of national unity only when you don't have a strong mandate like Shagari in 1979.
You saw the situation when Shagari won and the 12 2/3 that required a government of national unity. It was good for Nigeria.
But you also saw quickly how the NPP-NPN accord broke down.
That was the only civilian regime we had. When President Obasanjo came as a civilian, it was not a mandate as clear as this. We were just coming out of military rule.
But I think the government of national unity contributed to our problems in the PDP as a party.
In the process of that, key persons were from AD and I think the intention was also to diminish the opposition.
That was not good for Nigeria.
With benefit of hindsight, it also led to bloating up of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
The constitution says 36 ministers, one from each state, so, whether you vote for him or not, you are already having government of national unity.
But then we went ahead and started taking ministers from zones, so instead of having 36, we had 42. That increased the cost of governance enormously; and it created a behemoth called the PDP which in time had to implode. And it has imploded.
A new reformed PDP when it rebounds will be worried about things like the cost of governance.
You are a strong voice and a strategic one at that from the South-East. In the context of national politics, how would you situate the Igbo and the outcome of this elections?
Igbo intellectuals, politicians and strategic thinkers are meeting, quietly.
I am involved in some of the meetings.
There are four things that we have agreed to do.
That the Igbo vote represents, as one of us put it, Igbo fears and the Igbo hopes for Nigeria.
And everybody is now coming out united.
Therefore, there is absolutely no regret in the way the Igbo voted.
The second thing agreed upon, for want of better word, that it would be inelegant for the Igbo to be trying to jump into this bandwagon of congratulations and crossing over and seeking to say what can you give, don't forget us, like a governor told a governor elect.
You are not important we are talking about the nation. The Igbo have made up their minds that what they want in Nigeria is good governance. They had congratulated themselves that they have lived under non Igbo presidency for this long.
Whether the president was from the North, West or South-South, the Igbo made a living and so what is there is that we just want good governance.
The third point is that the constitution already guarantees that the Igbo cannot be excluded because of several provisions; provision that each state must produce a minister; the second guarantee is the provision of Federal Character in everything.
So, all we want is peace and good governance that are conducive to groups actualizing their potentials.
The final one is that the Igbo have said what is really their interest in Nigeria and core interest: Is it for Nigeria to break up? The answer is no.
Is to dominate other Nigerians? The answer is no.
Then they have come to the realization that it is to live in peace with other Nigerians but exercising their full citizenship rights which entitles them to contest for presidency, contest elections where they live and work and contribute, because they have a basic philosophy in Igboland which is that wherever an Igbo lives is his home.
He should make it his home, contribute to its development, welfare and wellbeing.
So, all these are being aggregated and you will find that a new Igbo will emerge.
But I am telling you not to expect the Igbo to come out soon. But whenever they finish, they will come out and nobody should be afraid of them.
Their definitions and strategies are good for Nigeria but they believe that they should be given a chance to govern.
Politics and politicking are over.
The president elect should be sworn in, he should be given time to unveil his policies, he should be given time for his policies to take root. They will not interfere, impede or criticise beyond the normal. There will be nothing personal about it all. There are some fringe Igbos who are saying you should not have cast your votes in one basket. Those are the market masters in politics so that if 'is' does not go, 'was' will go. That is how we say it in Igbo. So, you cast your vote for 'is' or 'was', so that if it 'is', you get, if it 'was', you get. They don't look at it that 'is' is the correct grammar and therefore, we will cast out votes. They are there in every group.
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